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What are section 7 expenses?

Section 7 expenses are one part of child support that both parents that are divorced, or separated, are responsible for.

The "section 7" is a reference to section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines, or section 7 of the Alberta Child Support Guidelines.

While, in theory, the Federal Child Support Guidelines are used by married parents that are divorcing, or have divorced, and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines are used by married, or unmarried, parents that have separated, for practical purposes it makes little difference as the provisions are almost the same.

Unlike when assessing base child support, the Court does not normally consider the access regime, or the parenting regime, that the parties are exercising when calculating the parties' liability for section 7 expenses, and the parties usually split the cost of the expense in direct proportion to their respective incomes.

The types of expenses are listed in section 7(1) of the Guidelines and cover things such as child care expenses, medical expenses, educational expenses and extra-curricular activity expenses, that are incurred to benefit the child.

From my experience of being a divorce lawyer/family lawyer in Calgary, the one thing that many clients fail to appreciate until they meet with a lawyer is that it is only the "net" cost of the expense that is shared by the parties. So, for example, if one of the parties is able to reduce their taxable income by including the expense in their tax return, or if a part of the expense is covered by insurance, or a subsidy, the reduction to taxable income, or the reimbursement paid by a third party, must be deducted from the amount claimed from the other parent.

If, after reading this, you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact me via email here, or via telephone on 403-538-2105.

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